Sorting the accurate from the ridiculous can be tricky when it comes to health and fitness advice.
As big a part of my life as the IT world is, it’s not the only thing I think about. I also happen to be an avid fitness enthusiast! I believe exercise and wellness are big parts of leading a happy, healthy, and successful life, and I’d like to pass that on to you.
In this series, I’ll share simple and effective tips and insight for leading a healthier life. Keep these in mind, and you’ll be surprised by how soon you feel a difference!
This week, I’ll be sharing a few bizarre-sounding fitness facts that really are more fact than fiction, strange as they might sound.
The Internet is both a blessing and a curse when it comes to trying to educate yourself on any topic – and health and fitness are no different. Trying to pick out the truly helpful bits of advice from the endless amounts of old wives’ tales and snake oil schemes that are permanent fixtures on social media and popular blogging sites is nothing short of frustrating.
Some of the advice is easy to verify, mostly thanks to old-fashioned common sense. Of course, you should be avoiding processed junk foods and high amounts of sugar when you’re trying to get healthier. It’s called junk food for a reason, after all. But other tips and tricks fitness enthusiasts swear by sound more than a little suspect, no matter how logical of an explanation is provided to back these claims up.
We’d be here forever trying to address every single weird fitness fact, but I can promise you these five are as true as they are strange.
1) Want to drop a size or two? Gain some weight.
Let’s let science explain this one. Muscle and fat are the same, pound for pound. The major difference is that muscle is more compact, creating less bulk than fat does. If one person works out regularly and makes weight training a part of their routine, they could easily have the exact same measurements as someone who is 10 or 15 pounds lighter but doesn’t exercise.
The trick is to make sure your diet and exercise regimen focuses on both building muscle and burning fat – if you’re bulking up without losing any body fat, that smaller waist size will stay out of reach.
2) Eat more if you want to eat less.
When you’re trying to cut calories and change your eating habits, a lot of people tend to turn to the kinds of quick snacks marketed as low-calorie. These little packs of cookies or “diet” brownies or bars might be low in calories, but they’re all empty calories. Grab an apple and some peanut butter, or any other quick bite that’s high in fiber and protein, and you’ll feel fuller for longer. Now, that snack you’re hoping will tide you over until dinner actually will, and you won’t be tempted to keep snacking on empty calories throughout the day.
3) Drink water to combat bloat.
We’ve all heard the term “water weight”, and most of us have dealt with water retention in some form at some point in our lives. So when you’re feeling bloated, water seems like the last thing you should be drinking – it’ll only make you feel worse, right?
Nope. Water is always the right choice for your body, especially if you have a high-fiber diet. Water combines well with soluble fiber, helping to keep your digestive tract moving. Bloat is also a side effect of dehydration since your body will try to hold on to as much water as it can. This can leave you looking and feeling puffy and gross, but a few glasses of water can set you straight.
4) Avoid diet sodas if you want to lose weight.
A good rule of thumb is that if something is marketed as “diet”, it’s probably not any better for you that its full-sugar, full-fat, or full-calorie version. Sodas are a prime example. Boasting low-to-no calories and zero sugar, they seem like a logical alternative for anyone looking to maintain their soda habit while working towards a healthier lifestyle.
However, studies have shown that regularly ingesting diet soda can cause your waistline to take a serious hit in the long run. Manufacturers have to make substitutions in order to make diet versions of their products taste like the “real thing”, which means adding additional sweeteners and calories.
5) Cool off with a hot beverage.
Say you’re finishing your morning run and decide to hit a local coffee shop for a little caffeine on the way home, or back to your car. It’s hot out, and you’ve just run half a mile, so you’re craving something cold. The right choice is clearly a nice iced latte – skinny, of course.
Well… no. Grab your skinny latte, but make it a regular hot latte. Drinking something hot when it’s hot out can actually help you cool down much faster. As your drink increases your internal body temperature, you’ll sweat more, and your higher body temp will help that sweat to evaporate quickly and cool you down.
As a side note here, it’s also important to avoid ice water when you’re exerting yourself in the heat. The colder your drink is, the longer it takes for your body to bring it to the right temperature to be able to process it and rehydrate you. Save your iced drinks for when you’re hanging out in the shade, doing nothing more strenuous than laughing and chatting with friends.